If any city in the world could be declared the perfect holiday destination, then Santo Domingo would probably be a prime candidate, with its modern sophistication, old world charm and Latin charisma, coupled with its position on the tropical southern Caribbean coast of the Dominican Republic.
Colonial City © Siso84
The only blight on the landscape is the crime rate: robbery, muggings, and petty theft are common, so guard your belongings with care. Santo Domingo was the first European settlement in the New World and boasts the western hemisphere's first cathedral, first hospital, first university, and first law court.
This rich colonial heritage, sparked off in the 15th century by legendary Spanish explorer Christopher Columbus, has been turned into a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the heart of the city. Known as the "Colonial City", it is now a delightful area of cobblestone streets and 16th-century buildings, interspersed with cafes, bars, small hotels, and restaurants.
Visitors don't need to stray far to enjoy a great time in the city, but it is advisable not to ignore the modern part of Santo Domingo. The superb shopping, delicious dining, dazzling casinos, seductive parks and vibrant nightlife all beckon enticingly.
A different world awaits, from the monumental Columbus Lighthouse right down to the depths of the Guácara Taina nightclub, with its multi-level dance floors housed inside a real cave. An opportunity to watch a game of the Dominican Republic's adored national sport, baseball, at Estadio Quisqueya shouldn't be passed up.